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Progress towards miniature, photonic magnetographs for space weather

Neal Hurlburt - Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center, United States

Session: Space Weather Instrumentation


We present progress on developing a novel magnetograph  that leverages advances in photonics integrated circuits (PICs) and low noise lasers which have been driven largely by the needs of the telecommunications industry. In our design, a single PIC replaces the traditional optical components by exploiting interferometric imaging techniques developed as part of the SPIDER project, a collaboration with LM and UC Davis. Our PIC processes incoming near infrared signals via two, independent waveguide circuits to capture each circular polarization. Narrow band spectroscopy is achieved by heterodyning the signals with a common local oscillator provided by a tunable laser. The resulting RF signals are processed using standard techniques from radio astronomy and solar magnetometry.

The technology is scalable to sub-arc second resolution using larger wafers, resulting in 100x reductions in volume and mass when compared to traditional designs. The cost of these wafers leads to a comparable reduction in the overall instrument cost since they are printed on silicon wafers using lithographic methods developed for microelectronics rather than by precise manual assembly. Small, solid wafers do not need expensive structures to maintain precise optical alignments during launch or on orbit, which further reduced size and cost.

Approaching deadlines:

Registration opens:

16 July 2020

Abstract submission opens:

16 July 2020

European Space Weather Medals:

6 September 2020

Registration deadline:

25 September 2020

Registration deadline: [extended]

10 October 2020

Abstract submission deadline:

4 September 2020